Throughout the years, the Royals have made it easy for some of us to genuinely dislike Chris Getz. We have been told that Getz 'does all the little things' and 'that he is mistake free'. Chris Getz, we have been snidely informed, does things that those of us not near the dirt simply don't understand. That statement seems a little odd, given that the perception is that many of us live in our Mom's basement: isn't that actually LIVING IN THE DIRT? How close must one get?
Last spring, Ned Yost divulged that Getz did indeed have more power than in seasons past. It was just 'that it would not show up on the field'. What? Let's not even get into the grit factor. That Getz is a good bunter and can handle the bat, only makes him a whipping boy for his manager's infatuation with small ball in a big ball era. (Yeah, I said 'big ball').
While I am sure all of the above was meant to be complimentary, an organization would be hard pressed to put out a string of backhanded compliments that might subject a player to more ridicule than the Royals have done with Chris Getz.
That is all the past, however. The Royals are 7-5 (if they do that for every 12 game segment, they'll be 84-60 with 18 games to play - I will be co-chairman of the Plaza Parade at that point) and Chris Getz has had a lot more to do with those seven wins than blame to share in the five losses.
Take April 7th, for example. Down 4-0 to Philadelphia, Getz led off the third inning with a bunt hit that was the start of a two run rally for Kansas City. In the fifth, Getz led off with a double and would later score on Billy Butler's grand slam as the Royals went on to win.
In the Royals' home opener the next day, Getz made the last out of an inning twice early on, but then Lorenzo Cain led off the 8th inning with a double. Down 1-0, Yost had Getz bunt and Chris executed the sacrifice well to move Cain over to third. Now, the run probability between a runner on third with one out is only a little bit higher than that of a runner on second with no one out. In this game, however, with Gordon and Escobar coming up, I did not mind the bunt.
With Cain on third, the Twins pulled their infield in and Alex Gordon singled past the second baseman to tie the game. In my opinion, Gordon's ball does not get through if the infield is at normal depth. Genius or luck? I don't care, the Royals tied the game and went on to score three runs in the inning.
To be fair at this point, in addition to Getz' sacrifice, Jarrod Dyson was also caught stealing in this inning. Removing the two 'free outs' from the inning might well have led to more than three runs being scored.
Fast forward to last Saturday night. The Royals' offense could not manage much at all against R.A. Dickey and crew, but trailing 3-0 in the 7th Jarrod Dyson doubled with one out. The Blue Jays went to veteran lefty Darren Oliver and Getz, after Dyson stole third, bunted for a single and drove in the Royals' first run of the night. That bunt is only good if Getz gets (get it!) on base, but he did it.
With two outs in the ninth of the same game, Getz singled and scored a second run when Alex Gordon singled him in. The Royals lost, but Getz drove in one of the runs and scored the other.
The next day, Jarrod Dyson led off the seventh inning of a 2-2 game with a single, stole second and was bunted over to third by our man Chris Getz. That is Getz' fourth bunt of the year: two for hits and two that moved a runner from second to third. Again, I don't mind that call in this situation. Sadly, Gordon and Escobar failed to bring Dyson home.
Of course, as we all remember (since it was yesterday and all) Getz came back to the plate with one out in the bottom of ninth and doubled - his second ninth inning hit in two days - and was driven in by Alex Gordon. Side note: Alex Gordon is good at the game of baseball.
It is extremely early and a lot of below average baseball players have played good baseball for a stretch of 11 or 12 games. Still, Getz has four doubles and a triple in his first 38 plate appearances. He had 13 extra base hits in 2012 (189 PAs), just 9 in 380 2011 plate appearances and 9 more in 224 plate appearances in 2010. He is slugging .472, good for third on the team (behind Gordon and Dyson). Obviously that slugging won't last any longer than Dyson's, but I might wager that Getz has not slugged .472 over any similar stretch very often.
Now, many of you are currently screaming 'small sample size' and you are 100% right. This is an incredibly small sample size and even then it is not without warts.
Getz had not taken a walk thus far and his .306/.306/.472 line is fueled in part by a .344 batting average of balls in play (53 points above his career average). He has grounded into three double plays. Getz started out hot last year (.308/.341/.436 in April 2012) only to fade thereafter. His defense remains mostly average (in my mind, there is one play he didn't make that I think most do, but there was a very nice play on Sunday, so - average by the metrics of my mind) and Chris has never managed to stay healthy through any of his four major league seasons.
We may soon fall back out of love with Chris Getz. A 2-20 string with a couple of failed early inning sacrifice bunts and a bobbled double play ball and my eyes will wander to Christian Colon or the ever hopeful bat of Johnny Giavotella or hell, Miguel Tejeda because, well why not?
For now, however, I am willing to give Getz some credit for helping this team get off to a decent start. With Mike Moustakas struggling and Frenchy being Frenchy, the Royals need production out of second base and, at least for a while, Chris Getz is giving them just that.